Reviews | Biff America: Open borders and consumer remorse
“Buyer beware.” “The squeaky wheel is greased.” These two sayings pretty much sum up my philosophy when it comes to gear and clothing.
I am one of those who believe that the reliability and durability of a product must be commensurate with the cost. Usually, a free market system tends to weed out distributors of poorly made products. But with each new line, there is often a learning curve where “research and development” still has to intersect with practical application. It’s up to consumers to keep manufacturers honest. “Silence gives consent.”
If something purchased does not meet reasonable expectations, for the good of all consumers, we need to speak up.
It’s a copy of a letter I sent to a men’s clothing manufacturer.
Dear Sirs & Madams,
Attached are three pairs of men’s boxer briefs, 95% viscose from bamboo 5% rayon, active odor control, with comfortable stretch and concave crotch, medium rise. Two pairs of underwear were never worn; the third were, worn once, washed and, knowing they might be handled, microwaved for 2.5 minutes (like popcorn).
I am writing to inform you that your product is defective. Normally, I wouldn’t bother to return imperfect underwear; partly because I dread the inevitable question posed to the US Post Office: “Does your package contain flammable or hazardous items?”
I hope you believe me when I tell you that my motivation is not monetary. I do not want any replacements or refunds, rather I want you to know that your product is poorly designed.
A little about me. I am generally a low end, catalog or department store consumer. I buy what’s on sale or cheap, and wash them regularly, and when they show wear, I reuse them as rags to clean my bike chains (or more recently, I use them as COVID masks -19).
Unfortunately, on a recent trip to Beacon Hill in Boston, I discovered that I had neglected to pack underwear other than what I was wearing on the plane. Since department stores on the ‘Hill’ are as rare as a conscience on a lobbyist, I bought three of your high-priced posh fabric underwear I found at an upscale boutique.
While it’s true that your underwear was soft and attractive (I loved the zebra stripes and was tempted to wear them over my pants), it didn’t take long for me to realize that your product was poorly designed. I can’t believe one of your guys took them for a test drive.
My complaint – in a nutshell – is that your underwear fly doesn’t have the structural integrity a man needs.
You can imagine my embarrassment that, while navigating image-conscious Newberry Street, I retaliated like a monkey in love. I’ve seen dog doors that offered extra security.
Lest you think I’m bragging, let me assure you that I’m average in every way; if you need verification please feel free to contact my wife.
Since every other pair of underwear I’ve owned in the past had more than enough weight bearing properties to meet my needs, I can only assume that yours is either poorly designed or devoid of the strength of garlands, or both. I realize at this late date that an underwear reminder is like closing the barn door after the horse has already escaped. But I would humbly suggest that you remove any unsold bamboo boxers from the shelves, suggest that they be worn inside out, or relabel them as a women’s only product.
Here is the dispatch I received:
Dear Mr Bergeron,
Thank you for your letter.
There are three of us in customer service whose job it is to answer mail and hopefully respond to complaints. I won the coin toss, which allowed me to answer. Although you have stated that you do not want a refund or replacement, please accept this $50 gift certificate for any item in our clothing line. May I suggest one of our beautiful socks or t-shirts? I would recommend foregoing one of our many choices of tights, briefs, or boxers; we would not be responsible for injuries. Please do our best for your wife.
If you’re unhappy with a product, service at a resort or restaurant — or the fit of your drawers — voice your opinion with emphatic kindness.
Communicate face to face, write a letter or call. A well-run business will thank you. Maybe nothing will change, maybe everything will. Together, we can create a more sensitive and safer world, one bad case at a time.
Jeffrey Bergeron’s “Biff America” column appears Mondays in Summit Daily News. Bergeron has worked in television and radio for more than 30 years, and his column can be read in several newspapers and magazines. He is the author of “Mind, Body, Soul”. Bergeron arrived in Breckenridge when there was plenty of parking and no red lights. Contact him at [email protected]